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The Early Years Vol. 1

January 1, 1991 | Format: MP3

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Product Details

  • Original Release Date: January 1, 1991
  • Label: Manifesto Records
  • Copyright: (c) 1991 Bizarre/Straight Records
  • Total Length: 43:34
  • Genres:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,136 Paid in Albums (See Top 100 Paid in Albums)

Customer Reviews

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I look forward to buying more of his albums!!!
kimberly platts
Midnight Lullaby and Little Trip To Heaven are some of my favorite songs, and this album is one of my all-time favorites.
Courtney W.
They do sound like polished demos although it also gives it an "honest" sound to it as well.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 17, 1998
Format: Audio CD
I must praise this album for all that it is worth. Perhaps some hard-core Waits fans may disagree with me, but I'll go out on a limb and say it: this could be the most important piece of your collection. What it promises to do on the CD cover, and delivers upon, is to bring the authentic, rich, small room tightly-packed with close friends and diverse faces atmosphere of a stop along the smoke-filled-bar room tour of a very promising young bluesman. Waits challenges his captivated audience to recall an era in early American music when each sentence was written with integrity and personality controlled beautifully by a gritty, aged voice. Although the album has a few "soft-spots" in its playlist, the first several songs are filled with bountiful memorable tunes and melodies which shall certainly swim around in your mind for hours, and days, even. If you've ever been transported into comfortable company in some imaginary wooden rocking chair overlooking a dusty road of puddles and pebbles while listening to the likes of John Hurt, Leadbelly, or Dylan's rare work ("Rock Me Mama", "I Love You But You're Strange (title?)", the Cash recordings, etc.), you're sure in for a treat. It's worth the trip to another time and place, one of borderline blues/folk feel, and where authenticity creeps out from the floorboards' cracks. I can hear the whispers now, the crackling transistor radio, the tall grasses blowing against the backside of the house, and a wail and a yelp and a moan from Tom Waits as his tapping foot sends vibrations across the kitchen's wooden dance floor. Come on now, pull up a chair and relax. Melt in the atmosphere.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By hyperbolium on April 2, 2000
Format: Audio CD
From the skimpy "liner notes" it seems these tracks were recorded in Los Angeles in December, 1971, and not intended for release. All thirteen titles are Waits' compositions as well. Other than that, and not possessing a complete Waits catalog, I can't tell which of these are unavailable in any other form, and which, if any, were later rerecorded.
All tracks produced by Robert Duffey. My guess is that these are early demo tapes... not from the sound quality (which is excellent throughout), but from the performances. Unlike Waits middle-period recordings, in which he played a highly stylized bum/loungelizard/minstrel, and unlike his more recent work that's stretched much farther out, these recording sound much more raw.
A few of the tracks have Waits' late-night jazz sound, but it's less contained, less scripted for a particular image than it became later. The guitar-bass-drum trio of "Goin' Down Slow" gives way to a slide guitar that seems to alternate between C/W and Blues licks. There's an uncharacteristic electric piano mixed in as well. "I'm Your Late Night Evening Prostitute" is one of Waits' characteristic first-person broken-down cabaret lounge-lizard pieces, sung to a piano accompaniment. (You can almost hear people dropping dollars into the tip jar).
Even more of the tracks have a very spare folk sound. "Poncho's Lament" features Waits' plaintive vocal accompanied only by an acoustic guitar. At moments reminiscent of Woody Guthrie (or perhaps the Dylan or Springsteen variations thereof). "Had Me a Girl" has a country-blues sound to it, with Waits' riffing on the line " doctor says I'll be alright, but I'm feeling blue...
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Bill R. Moore on July 11, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Tom Waits's The Early Years, though it should by no means be considered a regular album, and certainly not a compilation, is a nice disc to have for hard-core fans of the artist. Consisting of demos (mostly Tom solo on acoustic guitar, occasionally using the piano that would become his trademark) recorded before the release of his debut album, Closing Time, this disc gives fans the wonderful opportunity to hear early versions of songs that would appear on his first three albums, as well as quite a few that never made the cut. Several of these previously unreleased songs are quite good (Goin' Down Slow, Poncho's Lament), and some of the demos are notable for their differences from the eventual released versions. Fans will appreciate these. A great many of the songs are just Tom accompanying himself on acoustic guitar - something that we almost never see on any of his released albums, and a nice treat. Perhaps surprisingly, several of these songs have an almost country-ish vibe to them. There are several gems for hard-core fans to uncover. Granted, these are demos - early ones, at that - and they do pale in comparison to the songs that Tom chose to release; and some of them (Had Me A Girl) are quite immature: you'll be able to see why they were kept in the vaults. Still, if you approach this collection the way it's supposed to be approached - as a fan's only collection of early, unformed Tom Waits songs - then you will get the most out of it. I don't recommend that you get this album until you have every one of Tom Waits's normal released albums (all of which are at least 4 star efforts); but, if you have all of that stuff already, then this is a nice way to further your collection.
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